Trusting people to do their best work

'So long as recognition is authentic and genuine, there's no amount that's too much'

Trusting people to do their best work

Now that everything has changed in the world of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaders and HR professionals should also change how employees are valued, according to one expert.

“If there’s something that’s become very apparent over the past 12 months with a distributed or remote workforce, it’s that we don’t have managers or even coworkers looking over our shoulder or checking in on us on a personal level or even a physical level, like we did in the past. Pre-pandemic especially, the phrase that we would use is: ‘Trust is not given, it’s earned,’” says Eric Termuende, cofounder NoW of Work in Vancouver.

“Now it’s actually flipped to the point where we have to trust our people to do their best work and a leader’s job is to ensure that environment is created so they can do their best work in that environment that isn’t a physical one anymore because we’re not in the office,” he says.

Termuende will be giving the closing keynote speech during the upcoming HRD Learning and Development Canada online forum.

After that proper level of trust has been established, workers and managers should be ready to share some individual matters about each other to strengthen that bond.

“Understanding some of the personal hopes or aspirations or desires or pain points that some of our people are having allows us to build better relationships, better friendships, deeper connection [but] these conversations can’t be forced. Share with me your biggest secrets doesn’t quite work but that there is an invitation that happens, rather than an ask. I might share with you that I’m literally at my dining room table that I’ll be eating dinner at with my partner in a few hours; you might reciprocate something that you’re going through on a personal level and we can start to emphasize and we can start to relate,” says Termuende.

“When some tension point comes up at work, there’s a better understanding for what’s going on in the rest of your life so that I can either jump in and help if requested or, on the flip side, just give you a little bit of space if you need it,” he says.

Eric Termuende

The next step in fostering a better employer-employee relationship is tying recognition to company values that will further enhance that engagement, says Termuende.

Research done by Achievers Workforce Institute in 2020 ties recognition back to values and it can be much more effective: 52 per cent of people whose values align with their company are likely to be very engaged. That number goes up to 88 per cent when it’s somewhat or very engaged. Value alignment is the number one predictor of engagement at work.”

3 golden rules to recognition

With the recognition to become successful, three golden rules have to be followed, according to Termuende. First, the sentiment has to be specific and, second, it needs to be personalized.

“When we recognize somebody, it shows that individual that we’ve taken the time to appreciate and to care for what they’ve done. Its signals to that individual — despite how busy my day is — you’ve had my attention and you’ve had my thoughts for enough time where I haven’t multitasked.”

And that leads to the third point, which is how often appreciation should be provided, he says.

 “So long as recognition is authentic and genuine, there’s no amount that’s too much. But if you were to send a copy-and-pasted email every three or four days, it would start to be expected and the significance and the appreciation for that, especially due to a lack of customization, would make it feel forced or robotic rather than there’s deep sense of care and might actually detract from the intention of the act.”

The benefits to recognizing and rewarding workers is readily apparent, he says. “When people feel recognized, they simply do better work.”

Engagement through trust

But engagement with the workforce is not what needs to be fixed, according to Termuende.

Instead, “engagement is the product of increasing trust, belonging, psychological safety, and recognizing our people. Engagement is what happens after all of those are established. We’ve seen the cart-before-the-horse thinking that engagement is what we fix, when [in fact] it’s the human connection that we fix that enables us to be engaged and excited to do the work that we do.”

Managing employee experience has become a hot topic for HR people, according to a new report from Gallagher, while both workloads and productivity have soared during the pandemic, found another survey.

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